After sinking to 20th on Friday afternoon, Valentino Rossi rallied back into the top ten - thus securing direct access to Qualifying 2 - during Saturday morning practice for the Spanish MotoGP.

The Italian sounded downbeat yesterday evening, saying he was 'never fast' during the opening day and had battled a repeat of last season's rear tyre overheating/endurance issues.

The Monster Yamaha rider then spent much of FP3 working to improve the set-up of his M1 before fitting new rubber and breaking into the all-important top ten with an eventual eighth (+0.324s) on the timesheets.

"Today we improved because we modified the setting of the bike, and the team did good work, because during FP3 I improved my pace – that is good," Rossi said. "I was able to stay in the top 10, that is very important for the race.

"We still have some work to do, but for this morning the most important thing was to stay in the top 10, so we‘re good."

Meanwhile, Michelin's Piero Taramasso has reportedly told Sky Sports Italia that Rossi's ongoing tyre problems are caused by not leaning as far off the bike as the other riders, which creates more stress (and therefore temperature) on the edge of the tyre. But he is sure The Doctor can find a solution.

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Rossi's team-mate Maverick Vinales, second on Friday, remained safely in the top ten throughout FP3 on his way to fifth place and just 0.240s behind the new lap record by Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo – despite an issue with his number one machine.

"It has been a good practice, even though we had a little issue with one bike. This meant I couldn‘t do the time attack on this bike. I still liked it, but it was very important to be in Q2," Vinales said.

"We now also have a lot of data to improve that bike. Still, I felt so good on the track, especially concerning my rhythm. I‘m very happy, enthusiastic, and excited to be in Q2 and start qualifying."